Women in PR: Shattering Barriers and Creating Tomorrow at PRSSA ICON 2023

Throughout our lives, we all experience many “first-times” moments that shape our journey. Learning to walk, ride a bike and write, were many unforgettable “first-times.” PRSSA ICON 2023 is certainly one of those life-altering “first-time” moments for me. Like many of my fellow PRSSA members there, this was my first time at a nationwide Conference. It was the first time I felt confident enough to represent my Chapter to others. It was also my first time interacting with so many influential women in the public relations industry.

Back when I was a freshman, I couldn’t help but notice the difference in leadership roles between men and women in the communications field. Although many women pursue studies in communication, there seem to be fewer opportunities for them to take on leadership positions. This realization left me with unanswered questions about the prospects of women, especially those from diverse backgrounds like myself. 

PRSSA ICON 2023 is indeed a life-altering experience for me. Meeting so many female professionals and students in leadership positions has given me an immense feeling of empowerment. Attending inspired me to put to rest the myths that once set doubt on my aspirations.

One of the numerous enlightening conversations I had with these female leaders was with Amanda Brooks, director of communications for College Football and College Networks at ESPN. Her journey in overcoming misconceptions about women working in sports is not only impressive but also tremendously motivating. Amanda’s story shows that obstacles can be transcended and that young women don’t necessarily have to conform to roles established by society. She stands as a role model for a generation of women, encouraging them to pursue their passions without listening to what others think. 

Another inspiring talk at PRSSA ICON 2023 was with Hannah Michelle Oh, the PRSSA Chapter president of Utah Valley University. Learning more about her, I discovered that she is also a mother with a wonderful family. Our conversation made me realize that it is never too late to follow your dreams. Hannah’s path is a brilliant example of how women can accomplish a variety of goals, regardless of the timeline they choose. She challenges social norms that a woman’s stage of life should prevent her from achieving her ambitions. 

Furthermore, I had a chance to meet Milagros Orcoyen, PRSSA National vice president of events and fundraising, who comes from Argentina. What I deeply admire about her is how she navigates the dilemmas and stereotypes associated with women from different backgrounds, beyond just language barriers. Not only does she excel in overcoming language barriers with confidence, but she also demonstrates that women from various cultural backgrounds deserve the same recognition and opportunities as others.

PRSSA ICON 2023 has strengthened me to challenge misconceptions and fight for greater equity for women in the public relations industry. It has given me a fresh perspective on my mission and motivated me to create opportunities for women from all backgrounds. As I carry these experiences forward, I’m determined to be the change and make sure that everyone has an equal chance at leadership and success, regardless of gender, background or stage of life.

Now, I’d like to ask you: What actions can you take to challenge stereotypes and promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the PR industry as the new change? 

Uyen Ngo, a junior at Purdue University, is pursuing dual majors in public relations and sales management. Vietnamese by birth, her strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion motivates her to be involved as a member of the PRSSA Purdue Chapter and the PRoud Council. Uyen has a genuine interest in connecting with individuals and learning from their experiences. She aspires to bring her PR background, contribute to creating an inclusive environment, and share her knowledge with the upcoming generation. Feel free to chat with her on her LinkedIn.

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